The Holidays for everyone are stressful. Family gatherings, shopping for everyone on your list, hosting get togethers, the amount of money we end up spending, and for some people, the copious amounts of food.
Now some people breeze through the holidays without a worry in the world about what they’re eating or drinking and lucky them!
But for people who are battling a full blown eating disorder, in recovery, or just dealing with occasional symptoms, it is tough.
Whether it’s bulimia, anorexia, binge eating disorder, or a combination of EDNOS, the holidays can be daunting.
For me someone who has struggled myself with anorexia and social anxiety I can attest to the fact the holidays for me can be a recipe for disaster.
As much as I love Christmas and my family, sometimes my mental blocks do get the best of me! This will be my second Christmas out of treatment and hopefully another successful one, symptom free!
For me, it’s not so much restricting or skipping meals around the holidays. I’m far enough in recovery where I’ve learned to combat those symptoms for the most part (although sometimes they still crosses my mind.) For me it’s more my social anxiety around eating.
What I mean by that is the constant worrying about what people are thinking about what I’m eating, how much of something, how little of something, and what they think about it. Sometimes my thoughts can get me to a point where I try to get out of social situations where I know we’ll be eating a meal.
Given, it used to be 1000x worse than it is now, and for that I am lucky. But learning to deal with eating in social situations WITHOUT my medication has been a process.
It may sound silly but it’s something I still struggle with! Especially around holidays I always feel pressured to eat a certain way, or certain things people offer, even if it’s something I don’t want, or even if I’m not hungry.
Something that took me ages to get back was the ability to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Because I deprived myself for two years it was hard to learn what hunger felt like. I now take pride in eating until I’m satisfied and then stopping. Which sometimes means I skip seconds or even dessert, but not because my eating disorder, because I’m genuinely full (I touched on this in a previous post.) But turning down food during the holidays does not come without without fear of what people are thinking.
It’s hard when people know you have struggled with eating. It feels like during family dinners there’s a microscope on your plate.
My biggest advice and what helped me get through last year is, EAT WHAT YOUR COMFORTABLE WITH!
The holidays are hard enough mentally. Don’t feel pressured to eat more or less than you’re comfortable with. Eat a normal sized portion if that’s all you can handle. There’s no need to overstuff your plate or under eat in fear of looking disordered to your family or friends.
If over eating could set off a trigger for you- don’t, same with under eating. Take it like a normal meal and eat what YOU can handle so you don’t stress yourself out and can actually enjoy the holidays.
That being said everyone’s recovery and journey is different, and I’m not an expert or medical profession.
If you’re in a place of recovery where you can safely indulge in a Christmas meal with multiple helpings then by all means do so, and good for you for being at that stage!
But some people just aren’t ready for that and need to take holidays a little slower, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make your recovery any less valuable, it’s just different.
Don’t eat to please others, eat to satisfy yourself! Do what’s best for your mental health, you know yourself and your recovery best.
I know it’s easy to say “try not to stress” but seriously try. The holidays are meant to enjoy, so enjoy them the best you can, you deserve it!